Colorectal Cancer: Colon Cancer and Rectal Cancer

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Fox Chase physicians take a team approach to treating cancer. Learn about the team for colorectal cancer care. (9 min.)

The Colon
Being able to read the results of a colonoscopy properly is the first step to great care. Experienced Fox Chase diagnosticians are frequently called in for a second opinion. You can make it your first opinion.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, yet it is one of the most preventable.

Almost 90% of patients can survive
colon cancer when it is detected early through screening.

For patients with early stage or advanced disease, the best treatment is tailored for you.

Colon Cancer Screening

For people at age 50 or older, screening to prevent colon cancer should be part of their routine healthcare. For people with higher risks for colon cancer, such as having a family history of colon cancer or personal history of certain types of cancer, screening may start at an earlier age.

In the Philadelphia region, Fox Chase gastroenterologists are very experienced at performing high-quality colonoscopy. We not only perform routine screening procedures on our patients, but also serve as a second-opinion center for difficult colonoscopies referred by other facilities.
Find out about colon screening services »


Multispecialty Team Approach

Fox Chase surgeons work as a team with medical and radiation oncologists to offer patients every possible treatment option. The team also includes gastroenterologists, pathologists and radiologists. Together, they assure the most precise diagnosis and staging of the cancer to determine the need for additional treatment. When colorectal cancer has progressed beyond the earliest stages, the treatment plan usually includes follow-up chemotherapy and new targeted approaches that can contribute to long-term survival and cure.

Avoiding colostomies to preserve normal function

Efforts to reduce the need for colostomy are underway, using a combination of radiation and chemotherapy before surgery. In all cases, treatment is tailored to individual patients with an effort to preserve organ function and maximize the chance of cure. Permanent colostomies are now the exception-preserving normal function is the goal.

Fox Chase Cancer Center treatment may include:

  • Sphincter-sparing, pelvic-nerve-preserving surgery for rectal cancer performed by Fox Chase surgeons, a technique that avoids the need for colostomy.
  • Minimally invasive colon surgery laparoscopic, single incision laparoscopic, and robotic surgery) which result in faster recovery and less pain, but with the same results as traditional surgery.
  • Minimally invasive rectal surgery (laparoscopic and robotic resection) allows surgeons to remove certain tumors using smaller incisions, which results in less pain and faster recovery.
  • Radiation therapy administered by Fox Chase radiation oncologists, who were the first in the region to integrate the PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography) with the treatment planning (CT) Scan for patients with esophageal and rectal cancer.
  • Radiation therapy may be used to treat colorectal cancer that has spread, shrink tumors prior or following surgery, prevent recurrence and alleviate pain.
  • Cutting-edge treatment by a nationally recognized team of medical oncologists, including targeted therapies to tumor cells. This treatment is individualized to each patient-after considering their overall health and stage of cancer.

Ulcerative Colitis and Heredity Colorectal Cancer Syndromes

Our surgical team, Jeffrey Farma, MD, FACS, Elin Sigurdson, MD, PhD, FACS, and Nestor F. Esnaola, MD, MPH, MBA, FACS, has long experience treating ulcerative colitis, which affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum, and hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes. Among the best colon surgeons in Philadelphia, Fox Chase physicians are fellowship-trained.

State-of-the-Art Technology

Radiologists and pathologists at Fox Chase specializing in gastrointestinal cancers use state-of-the-art technology to allow minimally invasive procedures to be performed, such as fine needle biopsies, for diagnosis. Minimally invasive non-surgical treatments such as radiofrequency ablation, alcohol ablation and chemoembolization are frequently used to treat cancer metastases and hepatic tumors.

Understanding How Cancer Develops

Fox Chase physicians are making advances in understanding the genes that cause cells to become cancerous. Using new modalities, such as vaccine therapy, our physicians are attempting to boost the immune system to fight cancer, while preserving normal tissue. Fox Chase Cancer Center physicians are spearheading development of new biologic therapies for gastrointestinal cancer. These physicians also participate in research to learn more about the detection, prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer.

Support Groups

Fox Chase social workers offer a monthly support group for patients who have had a colostomy.

Prevention and Risk Assessment

For healthy individuals at risk for gastrointestinal cancer, Fox Chase offers Risk Assessment. Fox Chase gastroenterologists and other GI cancer prevention experts provide risk assessment and screening for gastrointestinal cancer. In addition, they offer genetic counseling, testing, education and opportunities to participate in gastrointestinal cancer prevention research, including a clinical internet trial for families.


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Blue Distinction

Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Fox Chase is a Blue Distinction Center for Rectal Cancer Treatment
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Surgical Options for Patients with Colorectal Cancer

by Jeffrey M. Farma, MD, FACS
September 21, 2012

Physicians at Fox Chase Cancer Center are recognized experts in minimally invasive colorectal surgery, including laparoscopy, single-incision laparoscopy and da Vinci® robotic-assisted surgery.
Cancer Conversations

See National Cancer Institute information on Colorectal Cancer

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Benefit from new cancer treatments
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